ISLAMABAD: Visiting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the US is considering giving Pakistan drones for intelligence and reconnaissance purposes, a private TV channel reported on Thursday.
In an interview with the channel, Gates said he was expanding the programme by buying more aircraft – a reference to, according to US officials, a proposed deal for 12 unarmed Shadow aircraft.
Gates said drone attacks had been successful in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. He said the US was considering ways to share intelligence with the Pakistani military.
Blackwater: Gates conceded that US security companies Blackwater and DynCorp are operating in Pakistan in private capacities. He said the companies would comply with Pakistani laws.
He said a proposal was not under consideration for Afghan forces’ training by India.
About Indo-Pak relations, he said the countries should deal with issues bilaterally. “I have raised [with India] Pakistani concerns over Indian involvement in Pakistan’s internal affairs.” He made it clear that the US had “no military relationship with India”.
Separately, Gates warned that Taliban safe havens along the Pak-Afghan border must be tackled or both nations would suffer “more lethal and more brazen” attacks.
Gates also called on President Asif Ali Zardari – who said drone attacks undermined national consensus against militancy.
A statement by the US embassy said Gates praised the army’s recent successes. It said Gates was in Pakistan to consult leaders on broader strategic dialogue.
Also, Gates met Army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Tariq Majid and ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha separately. daily times monitor/staff report